BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince you that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- which is my way of describing how I feel having cheated death. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

Last year, I turned 60 and I had a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City and playing the lead role in a staged reading of a play not written by myself. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Auctioning Zero Hour Paintings for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

This afternoon, I jumped upon the stage after Zero Hour, nervously made a speech about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and then picked up the painting Jim had just painted for the performance, announcing we'd have an auction.

Twice a year, the casts of the various shows raise this money, which is now shared with the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Clinic from Actor's Fund.

I'll let Don tell the story:
Steve and the audience had a lot of fun bidding on today’s painting to raise money for BC/EFA. Today’s painting sold for $52. Following the performance, Steve sold a second painting from a previous performance for $36. Between the money from the painting and the money collected in the buckets from audience members leaving the theatre, we raised 185.28 today. This brings our grand total to $216.28

My thoughts on the current priest scandal.

An informed essay by Andrew Sullivan, perhaps explaining a lot of the mindsets of priests, especially during the 50s and 60s. Part of it is that gay men were never allowed to reach any kind of sexual maturity to begin with since, to be gay, meant going to hell. So...

Now suppose your powers of suppression and attachment to religious authority are also strong - perhaps stronger because you feel so adrift you need something solid to cling onto in your psyche. And you know you cannot marry a woman. But you want to have status and cover as a single man. If this is the 1950s and 1960s, it's into the Church you go. You think it will cure you. In fact, it only makes you sicker because your denial is buttressed by their collective denial. And the whole thing becomes one big and deepening spiral of lies and corruption.
Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens. So they tend to be attracted still to those who are in their own stage of development: teenage boys. And in their new positions, they are given total access to these kids who revere them for their power.
So they use these children to express themselves sexually. They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don't see the children as victims. Like the tortured gay man, Michael Jackson, they see them as friends. They are even gifted at interacting with them in non-sexual ways. One theme you find in many of these stories is that until these screwed up priests' abuse and molestation is revealed, they often have a great reputation as pastors. As emotionally developed as your average fourteen year old wanting to be loved, they sublimate a lot of their lives into clerical service. But they also act out sexually all the time.
The point being that when you take a man, deprive him of any kind of social romantic interaction and sexual maturity, insist that he can NEVER have these things, he panics and thinks the only solution is to enter the priesthood so that he can find solace and healing in the church.

But what they actually encounter, inside, is an even more rigid authoritarian system where sexuality is even more hidden and covered up and not talked about.

Are these people actually pedophiles in the classic way we think of pedophiles? I believe the gay community, which avoids this subject like the plague, too easily labels them as such in order to say, "Well, they're NOT one of us!" Because, indeed, they aren't. The rest of us went on to create actual adult relationships, even though our psycho-sexual adolescence is usually postponed until our 20s, when we can get out of high school and our parents' homes.

The church has, indeed, covered up these sins/crimes. But did they do it because, since so many of them are also closeted homosexuals, hounded into the ministry by the rules of the 50s and 60s? Would these men have possibly otherwise, had the sexual revolution happened for them, never gone into the priesthood in the first place?

I kinda think so.

Sure, we can say that an adult is responsible for his own actions. But it's the closet and the demonization of homosexuality that is most probably at the root cause of most of these "old" molestations to begin with.

Deprive a human being of a natural development, and you end up with someone whose sexuality will come out twisted. As Andrew says, I bet many of these men never really thought of themselves as molesters, nor thought of the young victims as victims. Doesn't change what they did, nor the damage they caused, nor the damage caused by the hierarchy that covered it up, but it's all human nature.

This is what happens when you tell a gay kid that he's going to hell for being gay. He can run (into the priesthood), but he can't hide. Taken as a study in human sexuality, now we know what happens.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Zero Hour in NY #13: A Walk with a Friend

This week, I found out Mitties, the vicar at St. Clement's, was down with pneumonia. Knowing, also, that she needed a little outside exercise, I went down and we took a little walk.




Theater is Church is Theater.

The loss of the Mark Hellinger Theater to, well, theater is something Jimmy shakes his head and mutters about every time we pass by.

This column by Michael Riedel in the NY Post explains it all.

The intersection of church and theater, both considered to be sacred spaces, is a topic that hits very close to home for me. I'm not sure there is a difference, and I mean that in all the good ways as well as the bad ways.

But I'm with Jim. This needs to be a theater. Given the fact that this church brings in millions of dollars each year doing what they do, it's doubtful a reversion will happen anytime soon, if at all.

A Nice (For Me) Mention in Theatermania.

I was just perusing a review by Andy Buck of a play called "The Irish Curse" and suddenly saw my name pop up.
The Irish Curse has neither the heart-rending character sketches of William Inge's Come Back Little Sheba nor the stirring melodies of Steve Schalchlin's musical, The Last Session to recommend it.
I don't like that they had beating up on someone else's work to salute my own, but I'll take a compliment when it's offered!

And on June 23, right here in New York City, The Last Session will come roaring back to life. One night only at Theater at St. Clement's.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Morning Musing.

Yesterday, I walked down to 21st and 10th Ave in order to visit my dear friend, Mitties, the vicar at St. Clement's. She's down with pneumonia, and so I wanted to take her for a walk. I described for her how difficult it was for me, back in 94, when I got hit with pneumocystis pneumonia. I literally had to learn how to walk again.

But it all starts with a single step. I would work up my energy to get up, and step up on one step, then step down again. And that would exhaust me for the rest of the day. But it was one step, then two steps, and then, soon, walking again.

I brought the video camera along with me, so I'll put up video soon. (She's doing much better, by the way, but she's still very weak, and she still has it in one lung). I know some of her friends and admirers read my blog. So, I'll keep you posted.

We do love having Zero Hour down at Union Square. I hope you can tell it from the videos. When I got there yesterday, the farmer's market was just shutting down, and they were selling these magnificent loaves of bread for $2.00. I got the biggest, crustiest one.

Mmm. Homemade crusty bread.

I also changed the layout of the blog, if you haven't seen it in awhile. Blogger has all these new templates. So, I took one that looks like a rock star. I'll probably change it a lot just to see what matches.

But in my heart, I'll always be a rock star.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Zero Hour Video Diary #12: A Sunday in March

In this video diary, we run into a leather motorcycle dog, the Obamas, cabaret start Mark Nadler, a sand painter and a beautiful day in Union Square.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Loved YANK! at the York.

I cannot say enough good things about the new musical, YANK!, about two gay soldiers during WW2. (Jim and I have met a couple of WW2 couples down through the years).

I was captured from the first moment and it held me through to the end, especially Bobby Steggert (who I knew from a short stint on All My Children, and who was terrific in last season's 110 In The Shade), whose deeply emotional, and yet light-hearted, completely present performance left me with tears burning in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Since I've never liked pastiche songs, written as if from the 40s, I approached this show with trepidation. But the score moved the show along beautifully, and though I wouldn't say the writers are in the same category as a Cole Porter, it didn't matter because, as a whole, the piece is a well-told story, directed with fluidity and magic.

The York should be very proud. A wonderful, wonderful show.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Zero Hour in NY #10: Jim Closes NASDAQ.

Photos Taken by NASDAQ.

Photo credit: 2009, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.


Jeramiah Peay, Steve Schalchlin, Jim Brochu, Kurt Peterson, Christiane Amorosia, Richard Bell


Jim Brochu rings the bell


Jim Brochu


Richard Bell, Christiane Amorosia, Producer Kurt Peterson, Jim Brochu, NASDAQ VP David Wickes,Steve Schalchlin, Jeramiah Peay

I Love New York.

Bob Osborne talking to Angela Lansbury in our living room.

A New York moment for me.

Because Piper Laurie knows Bob Osborne, we invited him to Zero Hour, and now he's Jim's biggest fan. So we invited Bob over for a small dinner party, and, on a whim, Jim sends a note to Angela Lansbury, who we do not know, but who's doing a Broadway show down the block, and invites her.

And she said YES.

And she came!



So, last night, I was sitting in my bedroom, on the bed, talking to Jerry Stiller, with Steve Ross playing the piano, while Bob and Angela are in the next room talking to Marge Champion.

Jim singing with Jerry Stiller. Steve Ross on the piano.

Bob Osborne, Louise Hirschfeld, Marge Champion, Jim Brochu.

New York is very surreal, especially when my face is overlooking Times Square on the NASDAQ building, which is what happened earlier yesterday. (Video is coming soon!)

Zero Hour #9: The Auction

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jim Will Ring the NASDAQ Bell on Monday

Monday March 15th Jim Brochu will be ringing the closing bell for NASDAQ. This takes place in their street level studio in Times Square. It is broadcast live on a number of business channels including Bloomberg, CNN-FN, MSNBC, FOX Business, etc. We also (and this is the best part) get the large sign on Times Square with name and logo (also in the lobby).

It will happen around 4pm EST.

Webcast:

A live webcast of the NASDAQ Closing Bell will be available at:http://www.nasdaq.com/about/marketsitetowervideo.asx

Death and Life.

I've recently gotten emails from a guy named Thomas. He and I are going to have lunch together today. And I got a phone call with some very, very sad news.

As we've been putting together plans for a new TLS concert performance / staged reading (June 23! Put it in your calendar!), I suddenly got several notes from him.

For newbies, The Last Session (TLS) was the show we did back in 1997 in New York containing all the songs I wrote about my struggle with AIDS. These are the songs that saved my life.

Well, it seems Thomas has been listening to the cast album every single week since then. He wrote me a passionate note about how the CD was stolen from his car and so he started looking around to find a new copy. And he stumbled onto my blog.

In this day of constant connectedness, I was kind of shocked to discover that we had a fan out there that I didn't know about, especially one so very passionate about the material. He is an athlete who teaches karate and tai chi and probably a dozen other things, and he lives here in New York.

So, after a few emails back and forth, we're going to finally meet face to face. I told him, "Hey, I thought I already knew everyone who had seen TLS." But apparently not.

In a way, it's very exciting for me because now that we're going to do this concert, I've been thinking about the material a lot, and remembering back to the beginning of TLS, which is also the beginning of real public access to the Internet.

1996. So many of us in the early days were housebound because of illness or other disabilities, so we all made very quick connections. That's what I mean by finding a "lost" fan out there. His passion for the music and the message is really overwhelming to me.

But it's great, because it is allowing me to reconnect to the material in a new way, seeing it through his eyes. He even told me that a friend of his, this week, suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Thomas brought him his ipod with the song "Save Me A Seat."

Here's what he wrote:

a dear friend of mine is VERY sick in the hospital.
He's an 88 year old man who has practiced Karate for nearly 60 years !

2 days ago, he went into cardiac arrest and died for 20 minutes.
The doctors were able to bring him back, but he's brain damaged and they
will probably pull the plug this week. Very sad.

On Monday, I told him about you and your story and that I was able to connect with you.
I brought my iPod to the hospital and let him listen to "Save Me a Seat".

I typed out the words for him to read along with the song. He had a tear in his eye
and he said, "You better be careful, because if I follow you home, I'm going to see
you naked !". LOL Humor was always his way of "hiding".

He asked me to leave him my iPod so he could listen to it alone.
The following day, he told me that he listened to "Save me a Seat" nearly all night long.
It moved him deeply. He said that he hopes his wifes spirit was at her wake and remains with him.

They were married for 65 years !

He told me to tell you, "Thank You for writing that beautiful song FOR HIM".

Anyway, he's now in a non-responsive coma like state. It doesn't look good, but he's
hanging in there. He's one hell of a tough man. I'm happy that "Save Me a Seat" was
the last song he heard in his life. :) I'm praying for either a miraculous healing or a
quick painless passing.

And, of course, that brought me right back to the death of our dear friend, Dick Remley, who also was in his death coma, but came back out of it just long enough for all of us around him to say goodbye.

It pleases me to no end to know that the music from TLS still holds the same power it held 12 years ago.

Meanwhile, we had a phone call from our friend, Heidi, that her husband, Tom, had suddenly died back in Los Angeles.

WHAT??? We knew Tom had been dealing with some health issues, but this was sudden and totally unexpected. Heidi and Tom are two of our closest friends. We have cruised together. We call each other every night during Jeopardy's final question.

Really? Can this be? It's impossible!

The passing of Tom is really a shock to us all. Emotionally, it hasn't hit yet because it doesn't seem real to me. For me, he's still at home, trying to beat Jim at Jeopardy and trying out new foods. (Tom is, was, a gourmand, who loved trying anything weird and exotic to eat).

So, here's to Tom, one of the sweetest guys in the world. And to Heidi, whom we love like a sister.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

In Honor of the Oscars.

The trailer for every film that ever won an Oscar.



And, yeah, I loved The Hurt Locker. It was my favorite film of the year.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bob Osborne Mentions Jim on Turner Classic Movies

Talk about shocked! There we were in our little sublet after Jim's Friday night performance of Zero Hour, and we noticed that the old movie, also called Zero Hour -- on which they based the movie spoof "Airplane" -- was about to end. So, Jim flipped it on because we love hearing Bob Osborne's stories and bits of history about the movies.

And this is what we heard...

Friday, March 05, 2010

I Enter This Battle Gravely - John Fitzgerald & Steve

Another piece from our January 2010 performance of New World Waking at St. Clement's. Here is John Fitzgerald and myself singing.

Jeramy sings New World Waking.

Here is Jeramiah Peay singing "I Enter This Battle Gravely" from New World Waking. This is from our "musical sermon" we sang a few weeks ago at St. Clement's.

Leading Up To Re-Opening.

I've been in the midst of reconfiguring my ancient computing device. It had stopped being able to render video. And that's why you haven't seen much from me, lately. However, I think I have it all straightened out now and, soon, you'll get to see Jim, Jeramy, Don and Steve, and sometimes Taylor, in our new home at the DR2, a place we love very much.

It has still been very cold here, and that prevents me from doing much exploring. But, yesterday, I went over to Ed's office, grabbed the newly "sniped" poster -- meaning we took the old posters and put new information over them -- and put it up at the Polish Tea Room and at Sardi's.

Then, Jim and I went down and he did the show to a very receptive audience.

Sunday is our re-opening, but we're not doing a big party. Just a few refreshments in the lobby. Also, unlike a lot of openings, people have actually bought tickets! There'll be a few invited guests, but mostly, it'll be real people in the audience. Imagine that!

So, again, I'll be posting new video soon. Just have to find the time to cut it all together!

Ali Forney Center and Mr. Broadway 2010

I have to plug my friend, Ryan's, fundraiser here, Mr. Broadway 2010.

Over the years, because I was so early on the Net, I met a number of young people, cyberly, who were, metaphorically and sometimes literally, sitting there with a gun to their head because of the intense emotion of growing up same sex attracted in a conservative religious home.

They feel their only recourse is to either kill themselves or run away. And the streets are not a good place for naive teenagers, especially those perceived to be weak.

The Ali Forney Center shelters homeless GLBT young people.

Anyway, it's a beauty contest for Broadway hunks, and Broadway star Tovah Feldshuh, to boot. What could be bad? From his blog:

Mr. Broadway 2010!

It's hard to believe that it's almost time for 2010's Broadway Beauty Pageant, pitting Broadway's hottest guys against each other to benefit The Ali Forney Center. It's an old fashioned beauty pageant with an American Idol twist.

We've just announced that the always marvelous Tovah Feldshuh will return to host for the third time. Announcements on contestants and judges are coming up, it's gonna be a great group!

Get your tickets now, starting at just $25.

This is the forth year that I've co-produced the show with my friends Jeffery Self & Wil Fisher. But, every year the pageant grows and more and more people join to help us make the night a huge success. I'm thankful to all of them!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jim sings at Divo Night at the Friar's Club.


Jim sang, Monday night, at Divo Night at the Friar's Club. Here are pictures from BroadwayWorld.com. He was thrilled to share the stage with Broadway legend, Len Cariou.